History of St Mary's Church

Horncastle's oldest standing building,
dating back to the 13th Century

St Mary's is conspicuously placed in the heart of the town.

A must to visit.

The present structure of Saint Maryís Church is very probably the final result of three major rebuildings or restorations over the centuries, plus a number of other smaller repair works particularly over the past 200 years.

Basically the fabric consists of nave and chancel, each with a clerestory, a north and south aisle, north and south porch, and a low massive square tower containing a clock and six bells, the whole surmounted by a small spirelet which is completely out of proportion with the rest of the building.

There is no doubt the oldest remaining part of the church is the heavy west tower arch of the Early English period almost certainly built during the late 12th or early 13th Century, the two lancet windows in the west wall being typical of Early English work. The four-bay nave arcades are of the Early English decorated transitional period, although they were renovated during the 1861 restoration. The east bay is somewhat later than the other three.

The pillars of the arcade have a pronounced lean towards the south, said by some people to signify the leaning of Christís head on the Cross. If correct this would mean the Master Builder deliberately contrived the pillars to be built out of true, which is absurd. The lean is, in fact, due to stresses caused when the Perpendicular style clerestory and heavy wooden roof were added in the Fifteenth Century.

Fortunately it has been possible from newspaper reports, the Vestry Minutes, Glebe Terriers and documents in the Parish Chest to obtain an accurate and detailed description of what the Church of Saint Maryís looked like in the first half of the Nineteenth Century before a major restoration took place in 1861.

Extract from "A History of St Mary's Church, Horncastle" by J.N.Clarke


Painting of St Mary's Church by David Waller

Painting of St Mary's Church by David Waller

Limited number of prints for sale at £20.00 each, including P&P to UK address.

Size 600mm x 420mm.

Contact: secretary@horncastlecivic.org.uk 

Proceeds towards St Mary's restoration funds. 


St Mary's Church, Horncastle